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RTW #6: Here Today, Guam Tomorrow

De-Icing in Santiago Chile

Posted by on Jan 14, 2011 | 1 comment

De-Icing in Santiago Chile

Well folks, it’s that time of year again! I can hardly believe I’m about to embark on my 6th annual Round-the-World adventure. It seems like only yesterday I was planning that first “once-in-a-lifetime” RTW trip. Little did I know it would turn into an annual obsession.

This years’ trip is my longest yet at just under 6 weeks. If I don’t start scaling these back I may have to consider changing the name of the website!

RTW 6 will see returns to some of my favorite places from previous trips (Bangkok, Auckland, Moorea & Cabo) as well as a number of new destinations I’m extremely excited about (Chile, Laos, Palau, the Cook Islands, Borneo and others). As always, your comments and advice are welcome and encouraged…so let’s hit the road!

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America’s Southernmost Capital – Montevideo, Uruguay

Posted by on Jan 17, 2011 | 0 comments

America’s Southernmost Capital – Montevideo, Uruguay

I almost didn’t make it to Uruguay thanks to a missed 3am wake-up call at the Sheraton in Vina del Mar. With over an hour drive to the airport in Santiago and a 7am flight, I figured I’d better set a hotel wake-up call in addition to my Blackberry. Lucky I did set the Blackberry because it’s what eventually brought me back to consciousness after I apparently hit the snooze 4 or 5 times. When I realized what time it was (almost 4am) I packed hastily and practically ran to the car yelling something constructive to the front desk about their wake-up call skills as I blew past.

Since I was flying LAN Chile to Montevideo, I knew I needed to be checked in 90 minutes before my international flight which meant getting to the airport and returning my rental car in a little over an hour. So, I drove way faster than I should have through the Chilean countryside and managed to make it to the airport by 5:25am, unfortunately there was no time to refuel the rental car so I’m sure I’ll have to take out a second mortgage to pay for those charges when I get home.

But thankfully, I made it! It was the only flight of the day on LAN to Montevideo so had I missed it, my one night in Uruguay would have turned into an extra night in Chile.

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Cyprus – Aphrodite’s Divided Isle

Posted by on Jan 24, 2011 | 0 comments

Cyprus – Aphrodite’s Divided Isle

I got off to a slow start in Cyprus thanks to a full day of thunderstorms on Monday. Luckily, I’d planned a 3 night stay instead of the usual one or two so I was still able to see quite a bit of this super-sized Mediterranean island.

Known as Aphrodite’s Isle, Cyprus is strategically located between the coasts of Turkey and Syria (its nearest neighbor). Because of its location, it has long been a prize fought over by numerous conquerors including the Greeks, Romans and the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. The scars of these battles have left their mark on the island making it a huge archeological site.

The more recent history of Cyprus has been volatile since the Turkish invasion of 1974 resulted in a dividing line through the capital city of Nicosia. The “Green Line” separates the Republic of Cyprus from the 37% of the northern country known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (a state recognized by no other nation but Turkey). Today, the Green Line is monitored by United Nations troops and the political situation has stabilized in recent years.

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Destined for Laos

Posted by on Jan 24, 2011 | 0 comments

Destined for Laos

Have you ever arrived in a faraway place and known instantly that you were always meant to go there?

I had that feeling when I first stepped off the plane in Luang Prabang, Laos. I’m not sure how to explain it, really. It was somewhat surreal, more a sense of immediate familiarity and belonging. Perhaps that I’d been here before – though I definitely hadn’t. After catching a glimpse of the tiny town from the air, I couldn’t wait to start exploring.

Until 1989, Laos was closed to tourism leaving it virtually cut off from the rest of Southeast Asia. Since opening their doors to the world slightly over two decades ago, Laos now has a steadily-developing economy, reliant on tourism and regional trade.

Situated in northern Laos, Luang Prabang is one of the richest and most visited provinces. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 meaning a blessed ban on buses and trucks. Most road traffic consists of bicycles, motorbikes, tuk-tuks and those traveling on foot. Considered by many travelers and writers to be the heart of Laotian culture, the small and gentle town on the banks of the Mekong River is encircled by mountains and sits at 2,300ft above sea level keeping its climate relatively mild.

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Two Massages, a Fish Spa & a Pharmacy: An Ode to Bangkok’s Khao San Road

Posted by on Jan 26, 2011 | 0 comments

Two Massages, a Fish Spa & a Pharmacy: An Ode to Bangkok’s Khao San Road

I arrived in Bangkok with an agenda. One of my favorite cities in the world, it is also a great place to get a few things done when you’ve been in remote places for a while. Luxury hotels, hi-speed internet (oh, how I’ve missed you!) and great food – all with unbeatable prices. I’ve written about my love for Bangkok each year, so this time I decided to change things up a bit and focus on one of the city’s most fascinating streets.

Shockingly, the first two times I visited Bangkok, I was so busy exploring the Grand Palace, the temples and the markets that I never even made it to Khao San Road. By my 3rd trip, I was determined to check it out and when I did, it quickly became a must for me on every trip to Bangkok. For the past two weeks of my trip, I’ve been adding to my list of things I need to do while on Khao San this time.

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Monkey Business in Borneo

Posted by on Jan 30, 2011 | 0 comments

Monkey Business in Borneo

Planning a trip around the world is harder than you’d think. Dozens of flights, hotels, car rentals, trains, buses – a myriad of details to be booked (and it helps if you book them for the right dates). I’m often asked, “Do you ever make mistakes in your planning?” Well, folks, the answer is yes. And my flight to Borneo was a prime example.

There were no direct options for getting from Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu but there were a number of cheap options with connections. After researching the options, I decided to fly Air Asia from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur and then Malaysia Airlines on to Kota Kinabalu. All was going according to plan until I landed in Kuala Lumpur and began looking for the Malaysia Air gates for my connection.

Turns out…Kuala Lumpur has TWO airports. I flew into LCCT (which serves primarily Air Asia) and needed to fly OUT of KLIA. Now, usually I’m really good about checking to make sure connecting flights on various airlines are going into/out of the same airports, especially when dealing with discount airlines that often fly out of smaller airports. I mean, I’m well aware that most major cities have more than one airport  and I swear I always double-check airport codes. Somehow this one got by me.

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